Campaign Finance Reform
Issue: In 1980, David Koch ran for Vice President on the Libertarian Party ticket. The platform he ran on included the repeal of all federal campaign finance laws, the abolition of medicare, medicaid, and social security, the repeal of all minimum wage laws, the abolition of the Postal Service, FEC, EPA, and the Departments of Energy and Transportation.
This is just a sampling of the Koch brothers’ vision for America, and though they never held public office, they have made significant progress achieving their agenda in the 37 years since he ran for Vice President. In 2010, the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC affirmed that our government is now run by special interest lobbyists who can flood campaigns with unlimited dark money under the absurd proposition that money is free speech.
Though Democrats claim to oppose Citizens United today, they fail to put their money where their mouth is; they receive the same unlimited corporate support as the Republicans who they argue are in the pockets of big business. The reality is that the way our system works, it’s not a matter of which party is corporate funded, the difference is just which billionaires fund which party. Except, of course, in the case of Wall Street and Pharmaceutical companies, who gladly hedge their bets by backing both parties.
Proposal: If progressives are going to break through the corruption in Washington and put forward a compelling vision for a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, the first step must be comprehensive legislation that repeals the legal doctrine that corporations are people and money is speech. The key to unlocking our democracy is meaningful campaign finance reform that mandates transparency and accountability for all political spending.
Additionally, Congress needs to stop the revolving door by passing legislation banning any former elected officials or their staff from working as lobbyists within ten years of leaving their public positions. Using past positions of influence and relationships built in Washington as a lobbyist to push special interests undermines our democracy. And while it may be controversial, it is also time for the American people to have a real debate about the potential benefits of Congressional term limits.
We understand experience is crucial, especially when it comes to committee assignments and chairperson roles. However, this should never be at the expense of bringing new talent into our government to help build upon the foundations created by our leaders. This is how our country progresses. Ultimately, we will continue going nowhere unless we elect a Congress free of big money obligations in order to fix our rigged political system and bring government back to the people.
Citizens United v. FEC, 558 U.S. 310 (2010).